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Sometimes the biggest barrier is the one we put up ourselves

I hung out with someone close to me for decades. You’d think that after hanging out that long we’d get to be pretty good friends. Nope. This person was mean. They would say the most demeaning things to me. Especially when I was trying to do something new or big.


“You’re not good enough to do that.”


“You’re not going to get that job.”


“What gives you the right to think you can do this?”


“Keep quiet. No one wants to hear anything you say.”


Dang. That’s harsh. 


Why would I let them speak to me this way for decades? Why would I even continue to hang around this person? 


It was because the voice was coming from inside.


It was the voice of my inner critic.


My inner critic was an evil liar, and I should have never listened to him and believed him as much as I did.


“Minimize barriers” is one of the key behaviors I teach business leaders. It’s key in designing customer experiences, in leading your team and in developing your organization’s culture. It turns out it’s also key when you’re managing yourself.


Sometimes our biggest barrier can be the one we put up ourselves - our inner critic.


This week, my friend Shaunay Cotton released an interview she filmed with me for her latest The Transformed Creative series. You can sign up and watch that interview here!

During the interview, Shaunay asked me what’s the most important advice I’d give my younger self. Hands down, the most important advice I’d give young Matt is to ignore my inner critic and recognize him for the liar he is.


Don't get me wrong. I’m thrilled with where I am in life today, and am proud of what I’ve been able to do. But if I had handled my inner critic, and my response to him, earlier in life then I’d be a few steps further down the road than I am today. And I wouldn’t have gone through the struggles that I’ve had.


Thankfully, I’ve found a process to ignore my inner critic and turn those lies around. If you struggle with your inner critic you can follow this process too.



When your inner critic starts telling you the lies, it’s important to know why your inner critic is showing up. I’ve come to recognize that when my inner critic does show up, then something pretty big is just around the corner. Now, I’m happy to see my inner critic when he shows up (kind of like an old friend), but I still send him packing.


“Oh! You’re here? That’s actually good. That must mean I’m on the right track or that something really great is just around the corner. Thanks for dropping by. Too bad you have to leave now.”



The moment your inner critic shows up and starts talking, you have to reject the lies as quickly as you can. If you ponder on them too long, you may start believing them. And you shouldn’t - because, again, they’re lies.



The best way to finish rejecting the lie is to turn it completely around into a positive statement that’s just the opposite. If my inner critic tells me, “Keep quiet. No one wants to hear anything you say.” then I turn it around to, “I have some valuable lessons to share that are going to change someone’s life today.”



To beat my inner critic before he even shows up again, I take these positive statements and build a habit of repeating them to myself each day. Yep - they’re affirmations, and they work. There’s even research that shows that speaking these positive affirmations to yourself consistently out loud in a mirror is a much more successful approach than just writing them down.


Do you struggle with your inner critic?


Good news: you’re not alone. There’s more people than care to admit who struggle with their own inner critic too.


Bad news:  this is not okay. If you continue to listen and believe what your inner critic tells you, then you’re going to lose out on some major accomplishments in your life.


So if your inner critic is hanging around today, kick ‘em to the curb.

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